Are there really fans out there waiting for the latest Wes Anderson film? And are there people clamoring for the mere sound of George Clooney's voice? I don't think so. So why do we have an animated film (stop/action animation) from Mr. Anderson that features the vocal work of Mr. Clooney? It is titled "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and seems to be just another exercise in futility aimed at pleasing a very small and select group.
The film is based on a story by Roald Dahl, an author whose stories are always difficult to translate to the screen. In the film Mr. Fox (voiced by Clooney) is married to Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep) and they live in a hole in the earth. Mr. Fox longs to let his true nature guide his life and resorts to stealing squab. This results in him and Mrs. Fox being trapped in an almost impossible situation.
A couple of years later Mr. Fox, Mrs. Fox and their son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) are living in a foxhole when Mr. Fox gets the urge to move into a tree. They also take in their nephew Kristofferson (Eric Anderson) whose father is sick. Ash quickly becomes very jealous of Kristofferson.
The movie deals with Mr. Fox's plots against three farmers and how it places his family in jeopardy. It is all mildly amusing for adults but would be terribly boring for small children, whose parents mistakenly bring them to this "animated" film.
The animation is the best thing about the movie. It certainly isn't the acting or the story. There is a measure of enjoyment in seeing the hair on the animals' pelts blowing in the wind.
Clooney and Streep add nothing to the film with their reading of the lines. But then there is nothing special in the script for them to chew on. Anderson has a sort of whimsical humor that you either get or you don't. There will be many, many who don't get it this time out.
The film is rated PG for mild profanity and comic violence.
Anderson's best film was "Rushmore" which he wrote and directed in 1998. From there it has all been downhill for attracting a mass audience. He has developed a cult following but they never provide the numbers to make his films successful.
"Fantastic Mr. Fox" is not an animated film aimed at children. It is a fanciful movie aimed at adults. Do not get the two confused. And if you are not a die hard Wes Anderson fan then you might want to skip it all together. Only the animation will entertain you.
I scored 'Fantastic Mr. Fox" a less than sly 3 out of 10.
Jackie K. Cooper